Whichever way you looked at this, Met Police were never favourites to win this game. They sit three divisions below Newport County and have crowds that are usually around the 100-120 mark. Contrary to popular belief they have had no serving police officers playing for them since 2015 and many players are youth team players who have come through the junior clubs that Met Police run. Any league side wanting to learn how to run their academies and compete against the larger clubs might look no further than Met Police. Their your teams have had enormous success in recent seasons.
There are far better match reports out there than I can write, but watching the game close-up whilst photographing gave an excellent position to compare the two teams. The result Met Police 0 Newport County 2 was probably a fair result overall, the strength and physicality of the league professionals won out in the end. Some of the photographs emphasise the youth of the Met Police players compared to seasoned professionals such as David Pipe who is 35years and still playing well. However having said that neutrals might not disagree that Met Police were the more skilful side to watch and certainly the more entertaining . The best player on the pitch was 25 year old Jack Mazzone, who having watched a number of times this season, makes me wonder why he is not playing at a higher level. A strong intelligent and hard working number nine who has good skill. I would go as far as saying that if he was playing for Newport yesterday the scoreline might have been even greater.
Joe Day the Newport keeper was a real conundrum. Prior to the game the away fans were telling me he had saved them many points this season and a world class save, I don’t exaggerate, in the first half to deny Jack Mazzone, may have tipped the game. The second half though was a different affair and although he came and commanded his area by viciously punching balls away, he also dropped balls and was lucky not to concede a couple of goals simply through errors.
The real story of the game though was the torrential rain that swept in just before kick off that gave fans ( except Newport fans who were under cover) and photographers a tough time. The rain was a real deluge and i have tried to capture some of the wetness in photographs on my photographic site.
In the end this was a game that on a different day could have had a different result, but Newport County worked hard and although their goals were maybe a little fortuitous, they might have had a couple more in the end.
Lastly lets not forget the Newport County fans who were great. Chatting before the game they were a nice group of supporters and all will wish them well in the next round.
Although no-one likes losing a game, frankly this was a game that Dean Smith clearly thought little of. Despite his post-match protestations, this was a truly abysmal ineffective Brentford performance. Few would disagree with that and most might go further and ask why this might have happened.
A very different Brentford team with 8 changes found it hard to get going and a half time score of 0-0 was about right against a physical Notts County. The difference between the sides was a well taken goal from John Stead who is having a superb second half of his career at Notts County.
With so many new faces it was maybe harsh to expect the kind of football and passing we are used to simply because the players have not played before together. Individually a couple of the players had nightmare games for different reasons. Josh McCeachran was not only ineffective but gave the ball away numerous times and had his weakest game in a Brentford shirt. For all his skill, it is difficult to see what he gives to the team and his absence of physicality makes things even harder. Neal Maupay worked 100% but it seems does not have either the talent to succeed or the confidence, either way he again did not score and in the second half with multiple balls coming from the right from Florian Josefzoon one might have expected a goal or two. It is difficult to see how he can turn this around frankly. Alan Judge came on and had a decent 20 minutes and Marcondes also seemed a little unsure of his positioning but did show some promise.
The reality of the game was that it should have been 0-0. Notts County worked hard but did not inspire, and although they will undoubtedly gain promotion, my guess is they will have a short stay in League 1 unless they sign a few more creative souls. I was not pleased to see their brand of physicality ( which translates to fouls).
If Dean Smith wanted to win this game then he could and should have made perhaps only 4 changes. What he probably learnt was that his ” reserve” players are not perhaps quite up to Championship standard currently.
The body language at the end showed it all, disappointment , but simply the side was not good enough to score against a team two divisions below. John Stead looked a decent player and with the number of balls that got into the box in the game, my suspicion is that if he were the Brentford forward, he might have had a hat-trick.
Alan Judge will most likely be eased back over the next few months and realistically will look to be 100% by the start of next season. On positive notes yet again Chris Mepham played well and Florian worked hard but his final balls could be better. As we enter the transfer window yet again we are all thinking we need to sign 1-2 strikers. The argument that we already score lots of goals is not a good one, as with a pair of different styled strikers we might score a lot more. Some unanswered questions might be:
The media are full of the glamour of the FA cup. Sadly for many if not most teams that glamour is somewhat tarnished.
Not everyone is aware that the FA cup starts in August and ends in May. The early qualifying rounds are a god given chance for nonleague teams to make a small amount of money from the moderately attractive prize money on offer. By the time the first round rolls round in November the media suddenly awake with their stories of candlestick makers and funeral directors somehow managing to combine a job and a nonleague football career. Curiously they manage that on each of the other 364 days. As overheard at the recent Met Police FA trophy game a player when asked if he was playing on Tuesday simply answered negatively as was working. As Moriarty famously said in Sherlock “ that’s what people do”.
The glamour of the first round however comes with sadness too. The crowds at many grounds , sometimes famous grounds in FA cup parlor, were poor if not pathetic. The reasons may be varied. Clubs that decide not to offer deals and retain normal charges . Clubs that poorly advertise. Clubs that simply do not care as the league club imagines that the prize money more than compensates.
Let’s take a look at the winners and the rogues gallery. Starting with the rogues;
So where were the decent crowds? The nonleague sides playing at home. Hereford who are a reincarnated club but with great cup history had 4712 watch them defeat another nonleague side AFC Telford. Almost matching the highest crowd of the round at Luton v Portsmouth. 5333.
What realistically can be done? There are three options
To do nothing is not an option.
As a regular watcher of nonleague football to watch Sutton v Cheltenham in the FA cup second round seemed a reasonable option. Did I enjoy the whole experience? Not really. What went wrong?
On first sight the ground is an attractive one tucked away about a mile from the town centre and seemingly inserted between park lands on one side and residential housing on the other. To some extent the ground is covered on each of the four sides. So what went wrong?
Secondly there are huge gaps between the stands and the pitch edge, although some could stand pitchside, but again a huge gap between the pitch side and the actual pitch. This all contributed to far less of an atmosphere than when fans are close to the action. Some of these photographs might convey this large gap.
Thirdly there were such limited catering and toilet facilities for the crowd of 2200 that if either were needed a long queue was mandatory. I counted around 30 people queuing around 10 minutes before half time at each of the outlets in the Sutton fans section. Without doubt more outlets were needed and Sutton missed out on greater takings.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect were many of the young fans not even watching the game in the second half and kicking balloons to each other and on benches outside the closed club shop.
All in all this is a ground I would not rush to return to.
The preliminary and qualifying rounds of the FA cup often produce a few surprises and with financial rewards around £2000 for winning, teams have more than a vested interest. On a damp and occasionally rainy evening Worthing ran out clear winners over Carshalton, however the scoreline fails to reflect a fascinating game that surely Carshalton will learn from.
Some spectators decided that an umbrella was the best option even sitting in the main stand.
Carshalton took an early 2-0 lead and looked the better footballing side but a scrappy Worthing goal minutes before half time put them back in the game.
The second half was one way traffic not helped with the sending off of their captain Jahmahl King for two probably unnecessary yellow cards. This led to a non-stop attack on the Carshalton goal and Alex Kozakis had this view for most of the second half.
The crowd of 286 saw a good game with a scoreline not really a fair one. Although Carshalton played good football their heads went down particualrly after the sending off of their captain and towards the end were playing the ball around at the back as a form of damage limitation.
Both goalkeepers had work to do through the game and the score does not also refelct that they had decent games.
Peter Adeniyi will feel a little unlucky overall however with some defensive strengthening this will become a very good side indeed.
Sometimes when you photograph a game you get lucky. The game is exciting, or there are spectacular goals. Sometimes though you just get a series of quite unintentional photos. Here are a few photos from a Preliminary Round game in the FA Cup 2016 Carshalton Athletic v Farnham Town.